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Even though your child’s first set of teeth aren’t permanent, it’s important to keep your toddler’s teeth clean. Cavities form when the naturally occurring bacteria in your toddler’s mouth combine with sugars in the food residues left on his teeth, producing an acid that attacks his tooth enamel.

Teaching your little one to care for his teeth offers another great chance for you to bond, while helping make trips to the dentist easier and instilling lifelong healthy dental habits early on.

When to Clean Your Toddler’s Teeth

Your toddler will need his teeth cleaned at least twice a day. After breakfast and after his evening meal are ideal times, but before bed is the most important time to brush a child's teeth; decay-causing bacteria are more likely to grow at night.

How to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth

  • Appeal to your toddler's sense of independence (only big boys and girls get to brush their own teeth), provide some tasty toothpaste and a small, soft toothbrush, and the task may be greeted with the same enthusiasm as a new toy.
  • Use a pea-size amount of toothpaste containing fluoride. Too much fluoride could cause permanent tooth stains
  • He may only concentrate on the front, so remind him to get the teeth hiding in the back
  • Show him how to rinse thoroughly with water, and then carefully brush his teeth yourself, as young children usually don't get into all of the cracks and crevices. By the time he's in second or third grade, he'll be able to brush his teeth on his own

When to Take Your Toddler to the Dentist

Now is a good time to get your toddler used to visiting the dentist every 6 months for a checkup. Do your best to make the occasion fun. If he's nervous, sit him on your lap in the "magic" chair so the dentist can have a quick look inside his mouth.

How to Develop a Bedtime Routine

Make brushing your toddler’s teeth a part of his bedtime routine

Brush up on how to care for your toddler’s teeth. BabyCenter® offers advice on dental care for your toddler.

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